Meet the team – Rob Swallow
As Head of Design, Rob Swallow is the glue that keeps the Den design team together. Here he shares how and why he got there, highs and lows in art-direction and the product he thinks is most in need of a re-design
What led you into design?
For as long as I can remember I was always drawing, and on finishing secondary school it became clear that the road ahead would be shaped by sport or something creative. I knew little about design or what the career options were, I just had a knack for making things look half decent with a pencil or a paintbrush. I decided to embark on higher education and hone my skills. The journey since has been varied and fun. I’ve met and worked with some amazing people, have seen trends and technology come and go but I’ve been lucky enough to gain enough experience in the many different facets of design to forge a career in an industry I love.
What’s your role at Den?
My role has evolved as the team has grown. It’s taken some getting used to but I made the decision to down my tools and focus on how we go about our work and the talent that lives within the team. These days, the majority of my time is spent providing oversight to all things creative, building a team to deliver amazing results, and ensuring we are running the right process, with the right designers whilst helping the team navigate any challenges that may arise along the way. Apparently, I’m referred to as ‘design dad’ which is a fairly good description of my role these days.
What’s been your best work experience?
Visiting a barn in Bradford to see snow being made. As crazy as it sounds, I was there to test and choose a particular variety of snow for a winter ad campaign. I came away learning that they were all a by-product of paper manufacturing and that all my movie white Christmases were a lie. Then came the shoot itself, getting to wear a ghostbusters style getup to blow snow all over a stately home, a vintage car and filming snowball fights in the middle of summer.
And your worst?
Clearing up the snow…..
What single product do you think is most in need of a redesign?
I recently managed to erase all of the visual cues for the controls on the cooker hob (don’t ask). You would expect after 6 years I would know which dial controlled what burner, but it’s like I have never used the thing before and relies on trial and error to cook my kids a hot meal. I now have first-hand experience of bad natural mapping (the relationship between a control and its resulting function) as defined by Don Norman and am now on the hunt for an oven that solves all my culinary problems.
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